Iran sets out bold port expansion plans

Iran sets out bold port expansion plans

17 August 2017

Following the lifting of sanctions, country aims to become a gateway to Middle East and Central Asia

Iran is aiming to triple container port capacity to 14m teu by the end of the decade following the easing of trade sanctions more than a year ago.

Bandar Abbas can currently handle 3m teu, which represents about 84% of Iran’s container traffic, with ambitions to grow to 9.8m teu annually by 2020, according to government data. Bandar Abbas’s two container terminals ­ — Shahid Rajaee 1 and 2 — are forecast to handle 2.5m teu this year, up from 2.1m teu in 2016 and 1.7m teu in 2015. The next phase of expansion, which is under construction and “almost ready”, is projected to add another 3m teu from 2018, said Parisa Kaveh, general manager of private family-run transport company Kaveh Logistics.

With a population of 80m and GDP growth projected to hover around 4% to 2020, the lifting of sanctions early last year presents a real opportunity for trade, especially in the containers business. Isolated for decades on political grounds, the country now has a high demand for consumer goods including electronics, designer clothes and bags, and automobiles.

“Bandar Abbas, with increasing volumes and capacity, will attract more direct lines,” said Drewry’s maritime research analyst Shailesh Garg. “Already major lines have reintroduced their services.”

The Bandar Abbas container capacity increase would not only support imports of consumer goods for the domestic market but also act as a transit point, he said, adding that exports would focus on fruit and agricultural products, which require refrigerated containers, or reefers.

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